Many people are trying to reduce their sugar intake. As such, many sugar substitutes have entered the market.
Truvia® is one of them.
It is marketed as a natural, stevia-based sweetener that is good for blood sugar control.
However, you may wonder if Truvia is healthy or natural.
This article tells you everything you need to know about Truvia.
Truvia is a sweetener developed jointly by Cargill, Inc. — a multinational food and agricultural conglomerate — and the Coca-Cola Company.
It was introduced in 2008 and is now one of the most popular sweeteners in the US.
It is manufactured from a blend of three ingredients:
- Erythritol: A sugar alcohol
- Rebaudioside A: A sweet compound isolated from the stevia plant, listed as Rebiana on the label (1)
- Natural flavors: The manufacturer does not specify the flavorings used
Truvia is often confused with stevia, a natural sweetener made from the stevia leaf.
While Truvia is advertised as a stevia-based sweetener and has a name that sounds similar, Truvia and stevia are not the same thing.
Summary Truvia is the second-most-popular sugar substitute in the US. It contains erythritol, rebaudioside A and natural flavors.
Truvia is claimed to be a stevia-based sweetener.
However, this is incredibly misleading, as it barely contains any components of the stevia plant — and certainly none of its health benefits.
Stevia leaves have two sweet compounds, stevioside and rebaudioside A.
Still, there is no stevioside in Truvia — only tiny amounts of purified rebaudioside A, which is not linked to any health benefits.
For this reason, marketing Truvia as a stevia-based sweetener is highly questionable.
Summary Rebaudioside A is the stevia compound used in Truvia. Truvia does not contain stevioside, the compound in stevia that provides health benefits.
The primary ingredient in Truvia is erythritol.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found in some natural foods like fruits. It can also be extracted and refined for use as a sweetener.
According to its website, Cargill manufactures erythritol by processing corn into a food-grade starch and fermenting it with yeast. This product is then purified further to create erythritol crystals.
The chemical structure of sugar alcohols allows them to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue.
Sugar alcohols are common in the Western diet. Aside from erythritol, they include xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol.
But erythritol appears to be quite different from the others. It has a unique chemical structure that makes it resistant to digestion.
Most of it goes unchanged through your body and is eliminated via your urine — so it provides almost no calories and has none of the harmful metabolic effects of excess sugar (4).
Summary Erythritol is the main ingredient in Truvia. It does not cause harmful metabolic effects like sugar and is considered safe.
Natural flavors are listed as Truvia's final ingredient. Yet, these remain a bit of a mystery.
Neither the label nor the manufacturer’s website specify what these flavors are.
In fact, Cargill has been sued for deceptive marketing and use of the word “natural” to describe its products. In the end, the company settled out of court and continues to use the “natural” label liberally.
However, it's unlikely that these flavors are naturally derived. The term “natural flavors” is only loosely regulated by the FDA. A company is free to label any flavor “natural” as long as it is chemically equivalent to a natural flavor.
Summary The specific ingredients in Truvia’s “natural flavors” are not disclosed. However, it is most likely an assortment of chemicals that are not naturally derived.
Truvia is nothing like sugar because it is made almost entirely of erythritol.
Compared to table sugar, which has 4 calories per gram, erythritol has only 0.24 calories per gram.
It is near impossible to consume enough to affect your body weight.
If you are overweight or have diabetes or metabolic syndrome, Truvia — or plain erythritol — may be a good alternative to sugar.
Summary Truvia is almost calorie-free. The erythritol it supplies is not metabolized by your body and has no effect on blood sugar or other health markers.
While some of Truvia’s ingredients have been studied, the sweetener itself has not.
A four-week human study that used a high dose of rebaudioside A found no adverse side effects. However, this study was sponsored by Cargill, the company that manufactures Truvia (9).
Meanwhile, a recent study noted that erythritol ingestion was toxic to the common fruit fly. The authors even recommended erythritol as an environmentally safe pesticide (10).
Though these findings raise concerns, humans and other mammals appear to tolerate erythritol.
That said, sugar alcohols like erythritol may cause digestive problems.
It seems that erythritol is better handled than the other sugar alcohols, as it doesn't reach your large intestine in significant amounts (11).
In one study, digestive symptoms only occurred after 50 grams of erythritol — a very large amount — were ingested in a single dose (12).
In another test, it took at least four times the amount of erythritol to cause diarrhea compared to sorbitol, a commonly consumed sugar alcohol (13).
Keep in mind that tolerance varies among individuals. If you struggle with sugar alcohols, be especially careful with Truvia.
That said, regular use of Truvia shouldn't cause digestive problems for most people — at least not if consumed in reasonable amounts.
Summary The key ingredients in Truvia are safe to consume and have few side effects. However, tolerance can vary among individuals.
Truvia is an almost calorie-free sweetener that does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels and exhibits few — if any — side effects for most people.
In that regard, it is arguably better for your health than sugar. If you like the taste of Truvia and want to try it out, there’s no compelling reason to avoid it.
Even though it isn't a natural sweetener and the marketing behind it is questionable, it seems to be healthier than many other sweeteners.